Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's ruling Likud coalition yesterday easily defeated, by a vote of 57 to 47, a parliamentary motion of no confidence stemming from a deterioration of U.S.-Israeli relations over the annexation of the Golan Heights.
The motion, introduced by the two-member Shinui faction and supported by the opposition Labor alignment, accused the government of precipitous action and miscalculating possible reaction by the United States, which suspended the U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation agreement.
Begin's coalition was joined by the ultranationalist Tehiya (Renaissance) Party and the centrist Telem Party in defeating the motion.
A high Israeli official said former president Gerald Ford had promised Israel in 1975 that Washington would support Israeli's position on keeping the Golan Heights in peace talks with Syria. The officials said the promise was in a letter to then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Israeli sources indicated that the letter was leaked to the newspaper Haaretz to back Israeli contentions that the Reagan administration had been waffling on previous American commitments to Israel.
Meanwhile, about 300 Jewish ultranationalists moved into abandoned houses in northern Sinai to join a movement designed to prevent the Israeli withdrawal from the peninsula next April.
The hard-liners, who came from all parts of the country, took over buildings in the town of Yamit on the Sinai Mediterranean coast which, together with 13 agricultural settlements in the region, is due to be handed back to Egypt on April 25.